Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What I've read and my reading queue

I've been busy this summer/early fall, but still have been reading some new books.  Much of it has been for books that will go into the new political economic thought class (see post here), but not all.  Some other books that I've read in the past few months:

Economics/Social Science related books:

John Stossel's "No We Can't":  This book does a great job of explaining the libertarian philosophy and the problems with big government.  In fact, I think this book helps illustrate why I usually vote republican.  It's not that I agree with republicans that much more than democrats.  However the regulations, red tape, and lack of rewards for success that too many democrat elected officials tend to support makes me absolutely sick.

Charles Murray's "Falling Apart: The State of White America": Wow - what a compelling book.  I'm only 100 pages in, but it's already worth the money (and time) I've spent.  Does a great job explaining why our society may be dividing.  The book focuses only on whites to make sure any confounding factors of race aren't present in his analysis (and he's had his share of race-related controversy in the past).  Very good book.  I've always liked his book - "What it Means to be a Libertarian".  That's worth a read if you get the chance.

Non-Economics books:

The Hunger Games trilogy:  Outstanding books.  Both entertaining and also useful to read to get a sense of government dictators gone wild.  The parallels to communist governments are jump from the pages.

The Hobbit: My oldest son read this and has started on the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.  I am following behind, and we plan on watching the movies together soon.  

The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring:.  I'm only part way into it, but I like it.  I think this J.R.R. Tolkien author might be big someday.

In the Queue:

The Food Police: By Jayson Lusk (started this, but not far enough into it to comment yet.  I'll provide a full review on this site in the near future.)

Priceless: Curing the Health Care Crisis.  By John C. Goodman

An Economist Gets Lunch.  By Tyler Cowen  (Again, I've started this and gotten through about 25% or so of it.  Good but other books have jumped ahead in the queue.)

The Litigators.  By John Grisham

No Matter What, They'll Call this Book Racist.  By Harry Stein.

The Casual Vacancy.  By JK Rowlings.

The remaining Lord of the Rings books.  By JRR Tolkien.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Great article on NYC soda ban by Jayson Lusk

A collaborator of mine, Jayson Lusk, has a great article in the Huffington Post on the NYC soda ban.  Link here.

He writes:

"Want the freedom to marry your gay lover? New York City will happily oblige, even granting your partner pension rights if you work for the city. A down-on-her-luck teenager wants an abortion without parental consent? No problem. It's legal in New York. And, guess which city's officials are working to give its citizen the freedom to legally possess marijuana?
Yet, there is one act too dangerous, with consequences too heinous, to allow citizens their own choice. Buying a large soda. Oh, the horror!"

He also recently started blogging.  And he has a book coming out soon called "Food Police".  (He stays busy.) The book is outstanding, and I'll post a full review on this blog soon.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

News story on economic impact review site

A few news stories have come up on my new website, Economic Impact Review.

Here's a link to the SU story

Susquehanna University Associate Professor of Economics Matthew Rousu has developed a website to reduce confusion and bias among economic impact studies of the state’s Marcellus Shale reserves.
“Many economic impact studies are commissioned by groups that want a certain outcome,” said Rousu. “There often are incentives for ‘mistakes’ to be made, as long as those mistakes help the outcome. An economist paid for by a firm in favor of Marcellus Shale drilling, for example, may use different methods or different assumptions and arrive at different estimates than an economist paid by a group that opposes drilling.”
Rousu created EconomicImpactReview.com, which will publish and review economic impact studies and provide best practices for conducting such reviews. While the initial emphasis is on Marcellus Shale studies, the plan is to expand the reviews to other economic impact reports, as well.
“A properly conducted economic impact analysis can be valuable,” he said. “But unlike academic studies, very few economic impact studies are reviewed by other experts in the field.
“These studies can be done ethically or less ethically, but a high enough percentage of them are done very poorly,” he said. “Because of this, anytime I first hear about a new economic impact study, I don’t initially trust it. And that’s too bad, because sometimes they can be important.”
Economic impact reports vary widely in quality, Rousu said. One of the website’s goals is to bring credibility to the field by providing independent reviews and promoting best practices.
“Currently, when economic impact studies are published, many media outlets just run with the estimates,” he said. “This makes sense, since most reporters are not economists. But this means that there’s no incentive for an agency to be honest in its methodology when conducting these analyses, as there are rarely groups or individuals that counter any misleading statistics. We aim to correct that.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

4.5 million jobs created?

The Democrats are trying to say they've created 4.5 million jobs?  Really?  Even CNN knows better - see their fact check.

Also, for when the president or his fans decide to tell you how well the country will do under their policies, recall this chart.  For those who don't remember, this chart is from the president.  It was released when his economic team lobbied for the stimulus.  The red dots show what actually happened.  The green dot is relevant too ...